Saturday, June 18, 2011

The History of the Tauranga Slot Car Club

The roots of the Tauranga Slot Car Club go back to the early 1970’s when Brookfield Raceways and The Tauranga Commercial Centre both closed their doors. At that time, both clubs had been running strongly and occasionally challenged each other with Endurance events.
Indeed, during the early 1970’s, the Tauranga clubs used to travel to Whakatane and Matamata to challenge for Endurance events. These events were mostly 1/32nd scale events of around 4 hours duration. Other events included a 2 hour 1/24th Saloon Enduro that was made up of a big field of mostly Minis which was hosted by Brookfield Raceways at their Otumoetai clubrooms. Their layout was  a 5-lane 130ft long (40m) with electronic lapcounters and a separate elevated racecontrol mezzanine.
Some of the club members included Les Cooper (a la Cucaracha!), Barry (fastest Scalextric) Green, Eric Pattilo, Denis (Chapparal) Purdy and Gary Dickinson.
Meanwhile, the Tauranga Commercial Centre was run by Dick Schaeffer and his stunning asian bride. This track was a commercial monster with 8-lanes, 12m or more straights and an enormous 2m high banked 180º corner that sported a tabletennis netting around the top to contain wayward cars. Needless to say, this net was full of holes, and local entertainment was often heightened by seeing who could get their car to fly off the top and make it out the front door and on to the footpath outside. Yes, cars were cheap in those days.
Dick used to run events with entry fees and prizes - mostly Lexan bodies (which he made) and car parts but also cigarettes and softdrinks were thrown in. Dick’s track cleaning truck consisted of a four-engined  beast that towed a large dampened sponge.
From the closure of these two venues, the Tauranga club started out building a layout at Marty Woodward’s house in the Avenues. This was successful for a period of time before it lapsed and the club stalwarts then moved into premises in the centre of Tauranga in the old Down Under Coffee Lounge building and built their own layout.
After another move to a Cameron Road/Hillsdene location in what has now become the Tauranga Citizens’ Club, the club then wound up at some time during the 1980’s. Paul Corlett (Sharnie) was club President through this period.
Many moons passed until Errol Hodgson made it known that his full basement layout was available to resurrect a Tauranga Slot Car Club. 
Unfortunately Errol Sold his track after a couple of years and nothing happened for a couple of more years until the start of 2010 when the Scantlebury track was build by Stu and Dan. This returning slot car racing back in Tauranga again. In middle of the same year the 16th ave track was build and a simple figure 8 track was built in Kinloch. The Kinloch track went though a major change in the middle of 2011 to what it is today. With 3 tracks in Tauranga, slot car racing is truly back in the heat of the bay.

Thanks to Barry Raynel for the information

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